The story would be too fantastic to fly, too leaden with wistful yearning, if it wasn't actually all true . . .
A boy watches the life-giving forests surrounding his home crash to the ground and smother under concrete. He vows to take a stand: he will save the forests and ourselves in the process.
He lives in the woods, in a tipi, for seventeen years, mastering primitive skills and traditional folk crafts. He travels to other countries, living with indigenous peoples, absorbing their wisdom while strengthening his own commitment to earth stewardship. He becomes a master horseman, breaking world records in equestrian travel. And all the while, through the grinding years of self-sacrifice, dedication and hard work, he has been keeping his childhood dream, his vow, his stand, alive.
The boy is now the man and the man is Eustace Conway.
And the dream is now reality: Turtle Island Preserve, created in 1987, is now a 1000 acre heritage educational center and nature retreat located near Boone, NC.
Turtle Island Preserve now offers inspirational and educational videos for those who would want to learn more about the primitive and 19th century sustainable living skills practiced at the Preserve. The videos are also a wonderful gift for any adults seeking renewed inspiration about their own dreams, as well as for young adults seeking direction on how to make manifest, in their own daily lives, Eustace Conway's enduring love for and intimate relationship with nature.
Video: The History of Turtle Island & Folkways
The History of Turtle Island & Folkwaysoffers the most comprehensive look at Conway's incredible achievements over a twenty-year span, as documented by the news media and by the various school systems in which he gave presentations. This video also provides the most endearing introduction to the gorgeous Turtle Island Preserve. The second half of the video offers one of David Holt's Folkways segments that explored Conway's thoughts on simplicity, ingenuity, self-reliance, awareness, dedication, hard work-the traditional values and skills that have gracefully shaped Turtle Island-by way of focusing on the daily workings of Turtle Island. A charming yet thoughtful video, filled with beautiful scenes, happy dogs, willing workers, proud yet obedient horses, and even a dairy goat that noses right into the camera lens and begins nibbling wetly all over it. Just wonderful!
Video: All My Relatives: The Circle of Life
All My Relatives: The Circle of Life is a virtual one-on-one, hands-on tutorial in which Native American beliefs and practices are demonstrated almost effortlessly by Conway. Conway's genius as a teacher is that he does not rely upon airy generalizations or mystical jargon to explain his teachings. Rather, he grounds all philosophy and spirituality with his astonishing virtuosity in primitive skills. Starting fires with sticks, using weeds and stalks to make blowguns and blowdarts, sewing with animal bones and sinews, shaping bowls from river clay-this is how Conway illustrates the perfect integration of Native American spiritual beliefs with their physical world. Conway's every move embodies the sense of being centered and completely aware in the Universe at every moment, a sense of balance that makes the difference between life or death in the wilderness.
Videos: Splitting Wood, Knife Sharpening and The Tipi
Splitting Wood, Knife Sharpening and The Tipi are three in a series of Conway's "How to" instructional videos. Until you see someone like Conway demonstrate a skill or technique, the phrase "instructional video" is self-contradictory. Conway's instructional narrative gives a soothing, constant feedback, satisfying your desperate yet unspoken need to ask "How come?" or "Whazzzat again?" that always jumps up inside your head when you watch a video demonstration. Be assured-Conway knows, shows, and tells all. And let's face it-once you stay overnight in a tipi, you're hooked, forever, there can be no substitutes. For the skeptical, well, you just watch Conway set up a tipi. You'll ditch those stretchy, springy, plasticky, finicky, overpriced things called tents and get your own tipi, I am certain of it.
Full Circle: A Life Story of Eustace Conway
Full Circle: A Life Story of Eustace Conway, directed by Jack Bibbo, is not produced by Turtle Island Preserve, but it is a must-have video for those who have read Elizabeth Gilbert's powerful portrayal of Conway in her superbly written best-seller, The Last American Man (now out in paperback!). Full Circle capably covers Conway's formative years, but truly shines when it focuses on Conway's equestrian achievements. Bibbo takes the viewer along with Conway, Patience Harrison, Preston Roberts, a Blue Heeler named Prairie, Peter Rabbit the Mule, and a supporting cast of noble horses for a mythic, yet certifiably record-breaking buggy ride [2500 miles in 56 days!!!] across the majestic Great Northern Plains. Full Circle does not offer the depth of insight or poignancy that The Last American Man offers. Yet Bibbo's film is a splendid celebration of the beauty and spirit of the American Plains, and a glorious tribute to the willpower of man, woman, and beast.
(Video reviews by Brian Lee Knopp)